The Kachin State government held a meeting with Kachin youth in Myitkyina last week on the order of the National Reconciliation and Peace Center (NRPC), but the youth in attendance say that they are not satisfied with the results of the talks.
Sut Seng Htoi, who attended the May 28 meeting, said that the state government officials were not open to discussing issues around freedom of expression.
“The NRPC ordered the Kachin State government to offer explanations [in response to] our questions. We asked many questions. We wanted to discuss with them about many issues. In the meeting”, they explained (discuss) about IDP and drug issues.
“They only discussed two issues. They didn’t discuss other important issues,” she said, referring to the issues of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and drug abuse. “As a government, they need to answer our questions with accountability and responsibility. We have sent open letters to the government since 2018. After three years, they responded to our questions. But the situation on the ground has already changed. We are not satisfied with this.”
The Kachin Youth Movement began sending open letters to State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi in 2018 during her visit to Kachin State.
The movement asked for a roundtable discussion with the State Counsellor, for the government to give humanitarian aid to Kachin IDPs, and to take responsibility for the education of IDP children. They also asked them not to bring charges against peaceful demonstrators and to address the ongoing drug issues in Kachin State.
“We want them to organize ‘youth and peace’ roundtable talks. We want to discuss how youths and CSOs [civil society organizations] can participate in the peace process. We want to them to discuss the issue of peaceful demonstration. But they didn’t discuss it. The state government doesn’t have decision making power. They are just messengers. They bring news from above,” Sut Seng Htoi told KNG.
Kachin youths demonstrated in Myitkyina and demanded that the Burma Army stop their offensive in the Hukawng Valley in 2018. Three Kachin youth leaders were sentenced to prison time for leading the protest.
“The government should resolve what the youth are demanding. Peace is really needed in our country. We need to have equal rights,” Duwa Gumgrawng Awng Hkam, the vice chair of the Kachin State People’s Party, told KNG. “It’s as though the Union government has ordered the state government to give an explanation. The facts demanded from the youth are really important for Kachin State. Youth and peace roundtables have taken place in other states and regions… It’s like they are favoring other states and regions.”
In the meeting, Kachin State social welfare minister Ne Win said that the state government would organize a meeting with youth and CSOs every three months, and the roundtable requested.
The Kachin State social welfare minister, security and border affairs minister, director of Kachin State’s education department, the deputy police commander of Kachin State, and seven representatives of the Kachin Youth Movement attended the meeting in Myitkyina on May 28.